Arlington, VA

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What is customary to leave behind when we sell our house? Is there anything we have to leave or take?

Answer: The answer to this question varies by state/region so it’s important to understand what’s customary or required in your area. Throughout the entire DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) it’s customary to leave/convey all appliances, anything fixed to the home (e.g. light and plumbing fixtures) and take electronics or anything not attached to the home (e.g. free-standing shelves).

Fortunately, the Northern Virginia sales contract has a section dedicated to what conveys, including a yes/no option for the 30+ items below:

Around here, it’s customary for the items listed above to convey if they’re present, so if you intend to take any of them with you, such a washer/dryer, you should be sure to let your Agent and potential buyers know ahead of time.

In addition to some of the obvious conveyances like landscaping, carpet and heating/cooling systems there are some not-so-obvious items that convey unless stated otherwise.

Those include light fixtures (chandeliers), attached shelving and wall mounts for electronics. The electronics (and wiring) themselves do not convey, so in practical terms — the TV comes with you but the wall-mount stays.

Other Tips/Grey Areas

You do not have to remove nails and other hardware used for hanging photos and other personal items. In fact, if you do remove them, you’ve technically changed the condition of the home and can be held responsible for patching and painting.

You are responsible for leaving the property “broom clean.” Broom clean is a bit of a grey area, but it surely means you do not have to hire a professional cleaning service or scrub the grout. Regardless of what the contract says, I always recommend sellers use an altered version of a common axiom and convey their home in the condition and cleanliness that they’d like a home to be conveyed to them.

You are also responsible for leaving the home “free and clear of trash and debris” which certainly means not leaving junk in the attic, clothes in the closet, or food in the refrigerator but it’s common (and generally appreciated) to leave behind extra matching paint, extra tiles or floor boards and other items used to for replacement or repair.

It’s generally a good idea to run these items by your buyer first, before leaving them behind, so you don’t get a call 30 minutes before   closing to haul away a bunch of stuff they don’t want.

Price and contingencies generally command all of the attention in contract negotiations, but ensuring you’ve accurately documented what conveys also deserves your attention to avoid a major disagreement in the last hour.

If you have any other questions about what’s customary when selling a home in Northern Virginia or the great D.C. Metro area, feel free to email me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We’re hoping to do some major landscaping work over the next year and would like your thoughts on what we should focus on that will also be good for resale.

Answer: Now is a great time to start planning a landscaping redesign project for next year’s warm weather. If you’re preparing for a sale, small improvements to your yard can be just as valuable as updates to the inside of your home.

I sat down with local landscaping expert and long-time Arlington resident, Jeff Minnich (you should see his yard!) of Jeff Minnich Garden Design, to discuss smart ways to boost the outdoor appeal of your home before listing it and talked about some of the landscaping trends he sees in Arlington.

High ROI Landscaping For Resale

  • DAPPR: Define bed edges, Add fresh mulch, Pull the weeds, Prune the bushes and Remove dead leaves.
  • Lawn is King: Tall Fescue grass works the best in Arlington. The best time to seed your lawn is March, April and September. Water 1-2x per week. Give it about a month to grow.
  • Blast of Color: Azaleas are beautiful around here in April and May. Pansies are good options fall thru spring. Geraniums are great in the summer.
  • Grand Entrance: Your front door is a focal point — hit it with a fresh coat of paint or replace all together. Power wash your driveway and walkways. Flagstone aka Pennsylvania Bluestone offer great value if you need to replace or add a walkway (also perfect for patios).
  • Create a Scene: Help potential buyers picture themselves relaxing in their future yard by staging an area of your yard with chairs, table, umbrella, hammock, lemonade pitcher, etc.
  • De-clutter: Just like you removed personal items from inside the home, put things like statues and lawn gnomes away.
  • Condos too: If you have some outdoor space (balcony, patio, etc) pot some plants (see Blast of Color) and stage it (see Create a Scene).

Landscaping For Personal Enjoyment (not everything needs to be done with ROI in mind)

Trends:

  • Outdoor living spaces are the biggest trend in Arlington. This includes kitchens, fire pits, entertainment areas and lighting.
  • Hydrangeas and other “old fashioned” shrubbery are back in style. Dogwoods and azaleas are always trendy in Arlington.

Approaching a landscaping project:

  • Step 1 Hardscaping — Install patios, walkways, living spaces, water features, etc. This can cost anywhere from $10,000-$25,000+
  • Step 2 Sheds and Storage — Establish space for these items next
  • Step 3 Plantings — Work from biggest (trees) to smallest (flowers)
  • A full project usually takes 1-3 months to complete
  • There’s no such thing as maintenance-free

Thank you Jeff for all of your great advice. To learn more about Jeff or see examples of his work, please visit his website or send an email to [email protected].

Jeff received his horticulture degree, with an emphasis on landscape design and nursery management, from Virginia Tech. His garden design/build firm, Jeff Minnich Garden Design, Inc. takes the client from initial design concept through the completed garden design. Enjoy the wonderful colors of his personal Arlington garden at 2268 N. Upton Street.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Are you seeing a sharp increase in the asking prices of homes in Arlington, as reported by Realtor.com, since Amazon announced HQ2?

Answer: You guessed it, the national media is wrong about Arlington’s housing market (sort of). I don’t mean to jump on the Fake News bandwagon, but a few weeks ago Realtor.com ran a misleading article, that got a ton of coverage here, stating that the median asking price of homes in Arlington were up $110,000 or 17.3% from November 2018 to April 2019.

I was suspicious of their report because I’m not seeing that type of increase in the asking prices of homes across Arlington, so I dug into the numbers a bit more to understand why the data looks that way.

Technically, they weren’t wrong/lying but like most reports about local markets, they chose the version of the data with the biggest numbers to generate the most clicks and reposts without regard to whether it’s an accurate representation of our market.

The Truth Is In The Details

The reason the median price is up so much isn’t because owners are actually asking that much more for homes, it’s because the number of homes listed from January-May 2019 vs January-May 2018 for under $700k is down nearly 27% compared to a decrease of just over 9% for homes over $700k.

This has shifted the middle/median up substantially, but doesn’t actually indicate owners are asking more for their homes rather that there’s just less availability of homes under $700k.

For reference, the average listing price is up just 5.6%, to $782,156, in the first five months of 2019, a more accurate representation of the actual increase to asking prices.

The main reason for the drop-off in housing supply below $700k is the decrease in 1-2 BR condos, as detailed in the chart below:

To highlight how easy it is to manipulate housing data to show the opposite of what Realtor.com claims to be happening in our market, I looked at three sub-markets to compare how median price is changing within similar housing stock.

Looking at cross-sections of a local market with similar housing stock allows us to draw a more accurate picture of what’s actually happening, but even the chart below is misleading because it suggests asking prices are dropping this year, which isn’t true.

So What’s Actually Happening?

Over the last few months I have started to see asking prices increase. Occasionally I’ll see an asking price 15-20%+ higher than where it would’ve been last year, but mostly it seems asking prices for similar types of homes are up by 3-5% which is why you’re still seeing so many homes sell for above ask because most market values have increased by more than that (I’ve teed this one up perfectly for famed ARLnow commenter $4 Million to Heirs Annually).

Next month I’ll be working closely with Jeannette Chapman of George Mason University’s Fuller Institute to provide a detailed look at the Arlington housing market through the first half of 2019. I’m looking forward to collaborating with Jeannette on multiple columns to bring you more advanced market studies and opinions.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I’ve made a few offers on homes and am frustrated by the lack of negotiating I’m able to do. Are there things I can look for that are a sign that there’s room to negotiate price and terms?

Answer: Most buyers think that negotiating the terms of a home purchase is between them and the home owners, but in reality, most of the time you’re actually negotiating against other buyers. This is especially true when a home has been on the market for 30 days or less.

You can make a perfect case for why a home is worth less than the owner is asking, but if there are other buyers willing to pay more and offer better supporting terms, you don’t even get a participation trophy. If you’re dead-set on negotiating the price and maintaining favorable contingencies, the best thing to look at is the number of days a home has been on the market.

Historical data supports the following:

  • If you want to purchase a home that has been on market for 10 days or less, you should be prepared to pay at or above the asking price.
  • There is very little room to negotiate price in the first 30 days.
  • Buyers gain negotiation leverage after a home has been listed for 30 days and it gets better each month after that.

The last three months of closed sales in Arlington shows the following:

  • Buyers who purchased a home within 10 days of it being listed for sale negotiated 1% or more off the asking price on just 7.9% of transactions.

  • Buyers who purchased a home within 10 days of it being listed for sale paid 5% or more over the asking price on 18.7% of transactions.

Use this data to make buying more strategic and less guesswork/frustration, but remember there is no hard rule that you can’t negotiate a price and terms from day 1 or that a seller is going to agree to discount their price after three months.

Remember that each transaction is unique in that both parties have their own set of priorities/circumstances, each house comes with its own unique strengths and flaws, and all it takes is one or two buyers being on vacation/busy for a deal to go from multiple escalating offers to one negotiable contract.

Take some time to understand underlying market trends and probabilities and apply those to each individual transaction based on the information that is unique to it.

If you’d like to meet to discuss how data can be used to develop your purchase strategy, you can email me at [email protected] to schedule a time to meet.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How do prices in the Arlington housing market compare to prices in neighboring communities?

Answer: I hope everybody had a great Memorial Day Weekend! You may have read ARLnow’s post last week that the median price of a home in Arlington is up by $100,000 or 17% this year and if you’re in the market to buy a home, this is alarming news.

Arlington and Alexandria have quickly gotten too expensive for many buyers since Amazon announced plans to move its second headquarters to National Landing, so I thought I’d share how prices in other nearby communities compare to Arlington’s prices.

The following data is based on sales going back to January 2018.

Annandale: I think Annandale is one of the best investments in Northern Virginia over the next 5-10 years and I encourage buyers who don’t need easy Metro access and who are looking for value, proximity to D.C. and appreciation potential to strongly consider it.

Arlington: I don’t think we’ll see double-digit appreciation in Arlington after this year, but I do expect steady growth over the next 8-10 years, with the exception of any years slowed down by a market downturn.

Burke: Burke is popular for its combination of highly rated schools, VRE access, quiet residential neighborhoods and much home lower prices. Despite its distance from Arlington, the Amazon-effect is being felt here too; I’ve run into multiple offers and escalating prices over the last couple of months on properties that normally would have sat on the market for weeks or months.

Mclean: Host to many of Northern Virginia’s most expensive homes as well as its top-rated public schools, the average price of a townhouse or single-family home in Mclean is higher than Arlington, but with a lower $/sq. ft. your dollar usually goes further. Lot sizes also increase significantly over the average Arlington lot.

Vienna: Vienna is more Metro accessible than Mclean, Burke and Annandale, most of the schools have above-average ratings, and there’s a great downtown area along Maple Avenue. The downside for many commuters is the traffic along 66. Like Arlington, Vienna has a diverse housing inventory so there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for at a significant discount from Arlington and Mclean.

If you’re in the market for a home and struggling with the recent double-digit increase in prices in Arlington and Alexandria, I’d be happy to help you find other communities in Northern VA, D.C., or MD that will fit your budget. Send me an email to [email protected] to schedule time to meet.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How has this year’s spring market compared to previous years?

Answer: I’ll provide an in-depth mid-year market analysis in July, but since we’re in the final weeks of the historically strong “spring market,” I thought it would be a good time to share County-wide market trends that represent what I’m seeing on the buying and listing side these days.

Hint: Great for sellers, frustrating for buyers.

Owners Holding Out For Amazon

One of the big questions I had post-Amazon HQ2 announcement was whether owners would decide to hold onto their homes longer in hopes of higher long-term returns from Amazon or whether they’d accelerate their plans to sell to take advantage of a quick bump in prices and a faster sale cycle.

The answer so far is that more owners are holding off on selling because new inventory is down significantly from last year, highlighted by a nearly 30% YoY decrease in new listings in April.

Low Supply Is Driving Prices To Record Highs

There has been a YoY increase in the average sold price since the Amazon announcement was released in November, highlighted by a 11.2% increase in April (chart #1). That increase led to an average sold price in Arlington over $742,000 which is the first time the average sold price broke $700,000 in 10+ years (chart #2).

The Average Buyer Is Paying Over Asking Price

For the first time in over 10 years, the average buyer is paying more than the asking price to secure a home in Arlington. In April, the average purchase price was .3% higher than the seller’s asking price.

Sales Are Going Through Much Faster

It is taking less and less time for a seller to find a buyer, with a YoY decrease in days on market each of the last six months, highlighted by decreases of 73% and 74.3% in March (median 10 days) and April (median 9 days), respectively.

If you’re interested in an analysis of how the current has impacted the value of your home or the value of the home you’re trying to buy, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected] to schedule a meeting.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We bought an older home with original water and sewer lines. Who is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of these lines and how do I know if there’s a problem?

Answer: You are responsible for the main plumbing lines for water and sewage running between your home and the public lines. In most cases, the gas company is responsible for everything to and including the meter (attached to your home) and you’re responsible for the lines after the meter.

The main lines are usually buried under your front yard and replacement costs (water and sewage) often start at a couple thousand dollars and can easily exceed $10,000. Costs vary based on a few key factors including:

  • Distance from the public line to your home
  • Pipe material
  • Type of excavation/installation (difficulty in digging up old plumbing, number of turns in new pipe)
  • Cost to return landscaping to original state (this is on you, not the County)

In most cases, Washington Gas will return your property/landscaping to its original condition, including hardscape and your lawn (even your driveway), after excavating for repair or replacement. It’s not a bad idea to find out where your gas supply line is and plan landscaping with that in mind.

Identifying Problems

The life expectancy on many of the most common materials used for main plumbing lines range from 50-100 years, but tree root growth, unnatural disturbances like new landscaping, corrosion and pressure build-ups can cause leaks, blockages and other damage that you should monitor.

The most effective and most expensive way to look for problems is to hire a plumber to scope the lines with a camera to see if there are any issues. The cost of doing this often exceeds $500 per line, but can give you peace of mind or early warnings of a problem.

If you don’t want to pay a plumber to scope your lines, you can monitor for signs of a problem.

  • Water Line: higher water bills, lower water pressure, flooding in yard when there isn’t rain
  • Sewer Line: slow drainage/clogs in multiple areas of the house, foul smell inside or outside, odd behavior from plumbing like bubbling sounds
  • Gas Line: if you smell a gas/rotten egg odor, hissing sound from a gas line/meter, hazy/cloudy near gas line, plants dying, issues with gas-powered appliances

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Are there any loan options you’d recommend if I don’t have 20% or more saved up for a down payment?

Answer: There are an abundance of loan products on the market that cater to different professions, down payments and financial circumstances that you should consider. “Rate shopping” is easy and moderately effective if done correctly (e.g. compare the APR not the interest rate), but “product shopping” can be much more valuable and something an informed real estate agent can assist you with.

Here are some of my favorite loan programs and the lenders I work with who provide them:

Homeowners Buying And Selling

Second Trust/HELOC Program from First Home Mortgage: Jake Ryon ([email protected], 202.448.0873)

This is a great program for current homeowners who will be buying and selling simultaneously. It allows you to use the future proceeds from your home sale to make a larger down payment on your new home, before selling your current home.

Through First Home Mortgage, Jake Ryon partners with local banks and credit unions to provide you with a second trust that allows you to put as little as 5% down up to nearly a $1,000,000 loan amount. The second trust finances the remaining amount of your down payment (e.g. 15% if you put down 5%).

The second trust payment is interest-only, can be paid off any time, and can be used like a bridge loan so you can purchase your next home without a home-sale contingency.

Doctors

Doctor Loan Program from SunTrust: CJ Kemp ([email protected], 301.651.4189)

The Doctor Loan Program is a residential mortgage loan specifically created for licensed medical professionals to make obtaining mortgage financing easier and more hassle-free. It recognizes the financial toll of medical school and strong, stable future income post-graduation. The rates on these loans are also fantastic!

Eligible Doctors include:

  • Licensed Residents/Interns/Fellows in MD and DO programs
  • Medical Doctors
  • Doctors of Osteopathy
  • Doctors of Dental Medicine/Surgeons/Orthodontics/General Dentists (DMD/DDS)
  • Psychiatrist licensed as a Medical Doctor

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We’re preparing to sell our home and are concerned that we won’t have enough time to move out after it sells. Is there a good time to ask the buyers if we can stay a bit longer?

Answer: A Seller’s Post-Settlement Occupancy, more commonly referred to as a rent-back, allows a home owner to sell their home, collect the proceeds and continue living in the home for a pre-determined period of time after closing.

The most common scenarios for a rent-back are:

1. You have a need for the sale proceeds quickly; such as applying them towards the purchase of your next home. A word of caution on this strategy — make sure that you’ll be able to find and close on your next home before the rent-back period ends (or already found it).

2. Moving out is burdensome and/or highly disruptive to your family and/or job that you don’t want to start the process until you’re under contract and all buyer contingencies have expired.

3. You need to remain in your home until the school year is finished.

How Rent-Backs Are Structured

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors contracts (as well as other regional contracts) provide a standard form for a Seller’s Post-Settlement Occupancy Agreement so you don’t need to worry about hiring an attorney. It functions as a short-term lease including how much the seller will pay the buyer for the rent-back, how long the rent-back lasts, a security deposit, and a penalty for staying past the rent-back period.

Buyers will conduct a pre-closing walk-through before they purchase the home where they have all the rights provided to them in a normal sale. At the end of the rent-back, the new owners will conduct another walk-through once the previous owners move out, which is similar to that of a walk-through at the end of a normal rental period.

If the previous owners caused damage during the move-out, the new owners can make a claim against the security deposit, generally held by the Title Company who handled the sale.

Not Without Risk

For the new owners, a rent-back carries with it some of the same risks involved in being a landlord. Disputes over security deposit, damage in excess of the security deposit, or trouble with the previous owners moving out on time are all realities that buyers need to consider. As with many decisions in a real estate transaction, your willingness to agree to a rent-back is a matter of risk and reward.

The risk of problems like I mentioned is fairly low in most cases and the reward for accommodating a seller’s request for a rent-back can be the difference between them accepting your offer or taking somebody else’s.

Free Rent-Backs?

The fee for a rent-back is usually calculated off of the new owner’s carrying costs (mortgage + taxes + insurance), but in our hyper-competitive market, I’m seeing aggressive buyers offer seller’s a free rent-back as a way to increase the competitiveness of their offer. A free rent-back isn’t worth much if the seller is asking for an extra week, but it certainly adds up if they’re asking to stay for 6-8 weeks past closing.

On both sides of the transaction, the use and structure of a rent-back is one of many important strategic decisions you may face in this market. It’s a good example of an area where an agent who understands the local market and how to maximize your risk/reward position can add real value.

Whether you’re reaching out to me or not, I want to stress the importance of making sure you have the confidence in your agent to truly protect and maximize your interests through the entire transaction lifecycle.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I’ve read that home prices in Arlington are up since the Amazon announcement so I’m trying to decide if I should go ahead and sell my home now or if it makes more sense to wait for more appreciation when Amazon employees start to arrive. What is your recommendation?

Answer: Amazon’s decision to move HQ2 to Arlington has made an immediate impact on the local housing market and many home owners are asking whether or not they should sell or hold. As with most real estate decisions, the answer is… it depends.

It depends on your personal goals and circumstances, but the good news is that you’re likely going to be happy with either decision. Here are a few points to consider that are relevant to the market we’re currently experiencing:

Why You Should Sell Now

1. Highest One-Year Appreciation? — My guess is that 2019 will be our highest one year appreciation over the next decade barring some other major corporate news. While I do expect Arlington to experience steady growth over the next ten years from Amazon and the “Amazon-effect,” I don’t think the impact will be as extreme as many people fear/hope (see excellent analysis by the Stephen S Fuller Institute).

If you’re holding out for 40-50%+ returns over the next 5 years, I’d reconsider your strategy.

2. Better Application of Equity — I think this is the most important, and most personal, reason to sell. If you can improve the quality of your life with the equity you have in your home (early retirement or larger home) or you have a more productive application of that equity (start a business or re-invest), selling now might make a lot of sense.

3. Looming Economic Downturn — There’s always somebody warning of the next economic doomsday, but consensus seems to be building that we will face an economic downturn within the next two years. The potential for an economic shift is much more important if your decision is between selling now or 2-5 years from now vs selling now or 10+ years from now.

4. Your House Needs Work — Supply is so low right now, and demand so high, that sellers can command premiums on their home even if it’s lacking in updates or curb appeal that may have made a sale difficult in the past.

5. Condo/Townhouse Owner — Condo and townhouse inventory is down over 50% in each of the last two quarters compared to the prior year, a significantly higher drop-off than single-family homes.

Over time, the County should be able to facilitate more supply of condos and townhouses through up-zoning so this may be the best time to sell yours, especially if you own a two-bedroom where year-over-year inventory is down about 60% the last six months.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: My condo association carries an expensive Master Insurance policy, but my lender is requiring that I purchase my own individual policy. What coverage do I gain from the individual policy that the master policy doesn’t include?

Answer: Every condo association has its own (expensive) Master Insurance policy to cover the common elements, but there are substantial gaps between the association’s policy and what you’ll personally be liable for without an individual HO-6 policy.

Most people shop for the cheapest, fastest individual insurance policy and apply just enough coverage to meet the lender’s requirements, but that may put you at risk.

To explain common gaps between master policies and HO-6 (individual condo) policies, I’d like to re-introduce Andrew Schlaffer, Vice President at USI Insurance Service’s Community Association Practice. Andrew is an expert in Master Insurance policies and has helped multiple local condo association’s reduce their cost and improve their coverage since writing a column on the topic last year.

If you’d like to contact Andrew directly to review your association’s master policy, you can reach him at 703-205-8764 or [email protected].

Take it away Andrew…

Increasing Claims, Increasing Coverage Gaps

The condominium insurance marketplace is facing challenges that will impact homeowners in 2019. Water damage is leading this list of challenges — according to the Insurance Information Institute, about one-third of homeowner insurance losses are caused by water damage and freezing. The DMV is home to many aging condo buildings that struggle with mitigating water damage losses and their impact on insurance.

As water damage claims continue to rise and property damage costs increase, many insurance carriers are beginning to make changes to their coverage offerings that may increase your risk exposure.

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